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COVID-19 and Cancer Patients

What is COVID-19? 
COVID-19 is a new type of virus that can cause mild to severe infections in the lungs. Like other viruses, it can lead to serious infections for people with weakened immune systems. COVID-19 may cause more severe infections than other viruses. We do not have a vaccine to help control its spread, but experts are working to make a vaccine.

How Does COVID-19 Spread? 
The virus can spread easily, just like the common cold or flu. It spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes droplets that can get into the eyes, nose, or mouth of people nearby. Droplets also land on surfaces that people touch before touching their own eyes, nose, or mouth.

What Should I Do if I Have Cancer? 
Some people with cancer might have a higher risk of getting COVID-19 or having a serious infection from it. Do your best to follow the steps listed below to protect yourself. Ask your cancer care team if they have special directions based on your health or type of treatment.

How Can I Protect Myself? 

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds because it’s one of the best ways to kill germs on your hands and prevent the spread of germs to others. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth because if you picked up the virus, you could infect yourself by allowing the virus to enter your body. 

  • Avoid close contact – being within 6 feet - from people, especially those who are coughing or sneezing.

  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash, or cough or sneeze into your elbow.

  • Avoid shaking hands.

  • Stay at home as much as possible.

  • Practice social distancing: avoid large gatherings and close contact with people who are ill.

  • Stay home when you are sick.

  • Ask about telehealth services and "see" your doctors without going in person for an office visit. 

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipes.

  • Avoid non-essential travel. 

  • Talk to your cancer care team about whether there are any further precautions needed.

When Should I Call My Doctor?
Call your doctor right away if any of these happen to you:

  • You have a fever higher than 100.3 degrees F.

  • You feel short of breath.

  • You develop a new cough, runny nose, or congestion.

  • You can also talk to our COVID Call Center Call Center anytime—day, night, or weekend at 406-890-7272 and they can help answer questions. 

Should I Wear a Mask?
Talk to your cancer care team to see if you would benefit from wearing a mask. If you arrive at the hospital with respiratory symptoms, please ask for a mask.

Am I Able to Keep Working?
Yes! Follow the steps above to protect yourself and be sure to practice social distancing. By continuing to work, you will find that it helps you feel more like yourself. 

What if I Care For or Live With a Cancer Patient?
If you are caring for or living with someone with cancer, do your best to keep them from getting the virus. Follow the steps to protect yourself listed above. If you become sick yourself, call your doctor to see what more you should do to protect your loved one. If you work, you can continue to do so. Be sure to practice social distancing at your workplace. 

Could There Be Changes in My Schedule for My Doctor Visit, Laboratory Test, Imaging, or Infusion Treatment?
Yes! Because your safety is our number one goal, we may need to make changes in your dates for appointments. This could include your doctor visit, when you have blood work done, or even your infusion treatment. If you have been notified of a date change, your cancer care team is aware and has made that choice together. We are your partner in treating your cancer and want to keep you, your family, and the community safe from COVID-19. 

What about Visitors Coming to Appointments or Treatments?
For the safety of you, all of our patients and to protect your entire healthcare team, no visitors are allowed at this time.

How Will Kalispell Regional Cancer Program protect me from getting COVID-19?
Our hospital and clinics are taking steps to keep infected patients separate from those who may be at risk. For any appointment on our campus, you will be stopped at our screening station areas when entering the building. At the Rock building, if you have a clinic or infusion visit, the screeners will have you stay in your car. The screeners will ask questions about your overall health, recent travel, and take your temperature. 

It is very important to tell the truth when you answer these questions. If you have symptoms and we do not know, and then proceed with treatment, it may lead to serious problems or even death. 

What Questions Will I Be Asked?
Click here to see a sample of the questions you will be asked. 

Depending on your answers, we may ask that you wait as we talk to your cancer care team. You may be given a mask and then directed to enter a special area for further screening or may be asked to reschedule your visit when you have no symptoms and feeling better.

Will You Still Care for Me if I Get Sick?
Yes! Your care is our top priority. Although we may change some ways we care for you, we will never put your care or health at risk.

Where Can I Find More Resources About COVID-19 and Cancer?
Please visit the links below for more resources: